Sunday, February 26, 2012

New study suggests that electric-powered trucks will save money for businesses.

A company looking to purchase an electric-powered delivery truck today will likely experience some sticker shock: Such a vehicle costs nearly $150,000, compared to about $50,000 for the same kind of truck with a standard internal-combustion engine.

However, using electric vehicles can markedly lower the costs of a fleet of delivery trucks.

The study, conducted by researchers at MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL), finds that electric vehicles can cost 9 to 12 percent less to operate than trucks powered by diesel engines, when used to make deliveries on an everyday basis in big cities.

“There has to be a good business case if there is going to be more adoption of electric vehicles,” says Jarrod Goentzel, director of the Renewable Energy Delivery Project at CTL and one of four co-authors of the new study. “We think it’s already a viable economic model, and as battery costs continue to drop, the case will only get better.”

Envia Systems opens the door to affordable long-range electric cars with high density lithium-ion batteries

Envia Systems is demonstrating tomorrow at the ARPA-E conference lithium-ion battery technology with over twice the energy density and around 1/4th the cost of today's batteries.  This makes the 300+ mile range affordable electric car a possibility.

A battery breakthrough that could bring electric cars to the masses - energy density of 400 watt-hours per kilogram. Envia says with an energy density of 400 watt-hours per kilogram, its battery cell costs could be at $125 per kWh. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said recently that he sees battery cells dropping in price to below $200 per kWh in the coming years. Current electric cars like the Volt have been reported to be closer to $500 to $600 per kWh, and the Nissan LEAF at $375 per kWh.

Envia Claims ‘Breakthrough’ in Lithium-Ion Battery Cost and Energy Density - “We will be able to make smaller automotive packs that are also less heavy and much cheaper,” Atul Kapadia, chairman and chief executive of Envia, said in a telephone interview. “The cost of cells will be less than half — perhaps 45 percent — of cells today, and the energy density will be almost three times greater than conventional automotive cells.”  Mr. Kapadia continued: “What we have are not demonstrations, not experiments, but actual products. We could be in automotive production in a year and a half.”

Envia Systems battery breakthrough for affordable 300 mile range electric cars - Envia Systems is due to announce a dramatically improved lithium-ion battery design, with over twice the energy density and 1/4th the cost of current lithium-ion batteries, at the ARPA-E conference this week. Could lead to the long range affordable electric car of our dreams?   Envia's technology is a new cathode design for lithium-Ion batteries which the company calls the High Capacity Manganese Rich (HCMR) cathode. It's claimed the design has excellent stability, long lifetime in charge cycles, and a high per cell voltage. The company has also designed anode and electrolyte materials required to build complete batteries. Batteries have a positive terminal (the anode), a negative terminal (the cathode), and an electrolyte mix between the two. Electrons move between the anode and cathode through the electrolyte.  The result is a battery that stores 400 watt-hours of electricity per kilogram, compared to the 100-200 watt-hours/kilogram for todays lithium-ion batteries. Envia says its battery cell costs could be as low as $125 per kilowatt-hour. It's difficult to get accurate prices automakers pay for batteries, but it's thought to be in the neighborhood of $5-600 per kilowatt-hour. Together this means Envia has achieved a breakthrough of over twice the energy density of todays batteries, at 1/4 or less the cost.

Cost-Cutting the Volt? Envia Scores a Battery Energy Density Breakthrough - Automakers could slash costs of electric cars by the 2015 model year with a battery chemistry breakthrough from start-up tech company Envia Systems. The company claims its breakthrough boosts lithium-ion battery density from a current level in the 110-140 watt-hours/kilogram range to well past 400 watt-hours/kilogram (Wh/kg). This would lower the cost of battery-powered transportation from about $350 to $500 per kilowatt-hour, currently; to as little as $125 to $150 per kilowatt-hour, as measured at the cell level rather than the pack level, says company chairman and CEO Atul Kapadia.
Battery maker Envia Systems charging ahead - In the $17 million round of investment mentioned below, Envia supposedly turned away another $60 million of investment.  The company isn't ready to grow that big, yet.

Envia Gets $7 Million From GM: Does Its Business Model Work? - A year ago GM and other investors ponied up $17 million of investment, with $7 million coming from GM Ventures.  The company's business model is to develop and license technology, rather than go into manufacturing on its own.

General Motors Ventures LLC invested $7 million in Newark, Calif.-based Envia Systems to provide GM's battery engineering team with access to advanced lithium-ion cathode technology that delivers higher cell energy density and lower cost. In a separate agreement, GM has secured the right to use Envia's advanced cathode material for future GM electrically driven vehicles.

"Skeptics have suggested it would probably be many years before lithium-ion batteries with significantly lower cost and higher capability are available, potentially limiting sales of electric vehicles for the foreseeable future," said Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures. "In fact, our announcement today demonstrates that major improvements are already on the horizon."

"With our high-capacity manganese rich cathode material, Envia is addressing two key issues in the next-generation battery cells – higher capability and lower cost," said Atul Kapadia, founding investor, chairman and CEO of Envia Systems. "The investments announced today from GM and the two new strategic investors, demonstrate the excitement around our technology, as well as the importance of the challenge.

"We believe our battery materials have taken the technology lead that will help lower price points and unlock the market potential for our customers," Kapadia said. "With our technology and products, we believe that Envia is best-positioned to win a significant portion of this very large battery materials market."
Argonne, Envia strike deal to license advanced battery technology - Envia licensed part of their technology from Argonne National Labs.

ENVIA SYSTEMS: HIGH ENERGY DENSITY LITHIUM BATTERIES - Envia received $4 million of ARPA-E funding for refinements to the battery technology.

Twitter traffic concerning "It's A Brick" - Tesla Motors' Devastating Design Problem

On Feb 21, 2012, Michael DeGusta posted a blog post describing evidence that five Tesla Roadsters have been bricked due to owner neglect. Or is it due to a design flaw? DeGusta's post claims it's a design flaw, but there's a strong case to be made for user failure to RTFM and maintain their cars.

Maybe I'm biased but I think these three articles are a pretty good overview of what happened: Tesla Motors downplays risk of bricking a Roadster, The Tesla Bricking controversy could smash Tesla Motors, and Tesla Motors says you cannot brick a Model S

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Single person electric helicopters under development

The past six months have seen some remarkable advances in the budding world of electric flight, in a realm where until now internal-combustion engines have held firm: helicopters. Three separate demonstrations—of an electrically assisted helicopter and two tiny but fully electric choppers—suggest that the era of electric whirlybirds can't be far away.

President Obama Announces Funding for Breakthroughs in Natural Gas and Biofuels as Alternative Fuels for Vehicles

$30 Million Will Fund Breakthrough Natural Gas Vehicles Technologies, $14 Million to Support Development of Transportation Fuels from Algae

February 23, 2012

Today, President Obama announced new funding to catalyze breakthrough technologies for two key alternative fuels—natural gas and biofuels—as part of his all-of-the-above energy strategy to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and provide American families new choices for vehicles that do not rely on conventional gasoline. Through its Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E), the Energy Department will make $30 million available for a new research competition in the coming months that will engage our country's brightest scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to find ways to harness our abundant supplies of domestic natural gas for vehicles. The Department of Energy will also make $14 million available to support research and development into biofuels from algae. These programs will spur American innovation and encourage scientific breakthroughs that will help diversify the nation's energy portfolio, grow American companies, and develop alternative vehicle technologies that do not rely on oil.
President Obama announced the programs during a speech at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, where he toured the school's Industrial Assessment Center (IAC), an Energy Department program that teaches students how to become industrial energy efficiency experts as they help small- to mid-sized manufacturers cut energy costs.
"As President Obama made clear in his State of the Union address, in order to build a strong economy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we must invest in developing American energy sources like natural gas and biofuels," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Through the new programs announced today, we can help revolutionize the way Americans fuel their cars, saving money for families and businesses while building new industries here in the United States."

Funding Breakthroughs in Natural Gas Vehicles

ARPA-E's $30 million funding announcement for natural gas breakthroughs build on President Obama's call for a new era for American energy that benefits from the safe, responsible development of the near 100-year supply of American natural gas, which has the potential to support more than 600,000 U.S. jobs. Today's natural gas vehicle technologies require tanks that can withstand high pressures, are cumbersome and either too large or too expensive to be suitable for passenger vehicles. ARPA-E's projects under this new program, titled Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy—or "MOVE"—will focus on overcoming these barriers by developing innovative, low-cost natural gas storage technologies and methods to lower pressure in vehicle tanks that will help enable the widespread adoption of natural gas vehicles.
Specifically, ARPA-E seeks to fund projects that will develop lightweight tanks for cars that can run on natural gas and fit into modern passenger vehicles. This approach includes developing affordable natural gas compressors that can efficiently fuel a natural gas vehicle at home. ARPA-E also seeks to fund projects that will develop absorbing materials that are able to hold gas, similar to how a sponge holds water. These materials could lower pressure in vehicle tanks that hold and release natural gas, making them safer and more affordable for American consumers.
President Obama launched ARPA-E in 2009 to seek out transformational, breakthrough technologies that are too risky for private-sector investment but have the potential to translate science into quantum leaps in energy technology, form the foundation for entirely new industries, and have large commercial impacts. Demonstrating the success ARPA-E has already seen, the program announced last year that eleven of its projects secured more than $200 million in outside private capital investment after initial funding from its programs. Today's announcement begins ARPA-E's fifth round of funding. To date, ARPA-E has hosted four rounds of competitions and attracted over 5,000 applications from research teams, which has resulted in 180 groundbreaking projects worth over $500 million. For more information and application requirements for the Funding Opportunity Announcement, please visit the ARPA-E Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

Funding to Develop Homegrown Transportation Fuels from Algae

The Energy Department's $14 million funding announcement to develop transportation fuels from algae builds on an Administration-wide commitment to biofuels research, development, and demonstration that includes support for the construction of commercial-scale, next-generation biorefineries. Part of the Department's sustained investment in biofuels technologies focuses on unlocking the potential for homegrown transportation fuels from algae, which have the potential to replace up to 17% of the United States' imported oil for transportation. In addition, algae feedstocks offer additional benefits, such as an ability to be grown in ponds near industrial facilities where algae can feed off the carbon emissions from power plants or digest nitrogen and phosphorous from municipal waste water. The Department is currently supporting more than 30 algae-based biofuels projects, representing $85 million in total investments.
Through the new funding announcement, the Department will seek proposals from small businesses, universities, and national laboratories to modify existing facilities for long-term algae research and test new production processes that could lead to commercial biofuels made from algae. Specifically, the new projects will establish and operate research "test beds" for algal biofuels that can facilitate development, test new approaches to algae production, and discover innovative ways to minimize the water and nutrients needed to mass produce algae for commercial biofuels. These advanced research projects will aim to significantly improve the sustainability of algae-based biofuels and accelerate technological breakthroughs. These awards represent the first phase in a total $30 million investment in algal biofuels in fiscal year 2012.
The competitively selected projects will receive up to $14.3 million in fiscal year 2012 funds, with an additional $6.7 million available in fiscal year 2014 funding, subject to Congressional appropriations, for projects that meet rigorous performance criteria. Applications are due on April 18, 2012. For more information and application requirements for the Funding Opportunity Announcement, please visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tesla Roadster bricking controversy building?

Yesterday a controversy blew up claiming the Tesla Roadster can be bricked (rendered useless) by just letting it sit idle and not plugged in.  Some new information has surfaced, raising some serious questions about the story.  However the basic issue has not been addressed, that the Roadster doesn't have circuitry to prevent the battery pack from being discharged to the point where it can be damaged.

The Tesla Roadster “Bricking” Story Details Deconstructed - Yesterday it appeared that Michael DeGusta, the other of the blog post which blew this story onto the scene, was an innocent bystander.  But since yesterday it's been learned that he and Max Drucker (owner of Tesla Roadster #340, a car that was bricked due to Drucker's negligence) are long-time business partners.  Hence it's plausible that DeGusta and Drucker colluded to cause Tesla some public relations embarrassment.  Except, Drucker is a long-time happy happy fan of Tesla.  

The other item that came up is that Tesla's owner manuals strongly warn Roadster owners to keep their cars charged or risk damaging the battery pack.  Hence Drucker was negligent in not following required routine maintenance, or was he simply like all the other car owners that don't read their owners manuals and ignore required maintenance?  

Obama’s green energy programs produce "the electric brick" - A horrible post that gets almost every factoid completely wrong or exaggerated completely out of proportion.  It's slanted towards the Obama Is Wrong point of view and the writer is obviously one of the extreme right-wingers out to push the right wing agenda no matter how many lies have to be uttered.  I include this link because it's an example of the bashing of Tesla we can now expect to commence.

Who Is Trying To Smear The Tesla Battery Problem Whistleblower? - Jalopnik following up to Green Car Reports publishing the letter from Max Drucker.  Basically Jalopnik describes GCR as being a pawn of Tesla to smear the blog post from DeGusta published by Jalopnik.  The line of reasoning is that Drucker's letter was a private correspondence between him and Elon Musk, and GCR could not have gotten the letter from anyone but Tesla. 

The Tesla Bricking controversy could smash Tesla Motors - The controversy over whether a Tesla Roadster can be bricked is building, running the risk of spooking Tesla's customers just as the company is about to start production and delivery of the Model S, and just as customers are beginning to line up with deposits on the Model X. We have a duel between websites, possible indiscretions by Tesla Motors, uncertainty over whether future Model S and Model X owners will face the same issue, and public sentiment turning against Tesla. 

Tesla's stance is that they've warned the Roadster owners what to do, and are monitoring Roadster's to ensure their battery pack state of charge doesn't fall into dangerous territory.

A twitter message from DeGusta included the statement "I do think just saying RTFM is unduly dismissive, FWIW".

Do existing Tesla Roadster owners understand this issue? Over on (a discussion forum for Tesla owners) a poll was taken showing 92% of the respondents understand the need to keep an electric car charged up.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tesla Motors downplays risk of bricking a Roadster

Tesla Motors’ Devastating Design Problem - Jalopnik reposted a blog post written by Michael DeGusta in which he detailed an issue with the Tesla Roadster that can lead to the battery pack being damaged or rendered useless.  This is said to happen when people leave the car sitting idle for a long period.  Phantom loads in the car (some subsystems never turn off) drain the battery pack, and the car does not have any protection that would stop the pack from being drained too far.  

It's well known that if lithium batteries fall below the low voltage cutoff, that the cells get damaged.  

The story was told to Michael DeGusta via an unnamed Tesla service manager, who told him that at least five Tesla Roadsters have gone through this.  Their owners left the car unplugged for a few weeks, only to find the car had become an inoperable brick.  This scenario is not covered by Tesla's warranty, and the owner is responsible for coughing up $40,000 to replace the pack.

Tesla's response was to create a monitoring system where the cars tell Tesla's IT systems about the state-of-charge (SOC).  Cars whose SOC go low trigger an alert, and Tesla calls the car owner to remind them to plug the car in.  One time Tesla couldn't find the owner and had to trigger a GPS locator so they could send a team out to plug the car in.

Tesla released a statement saying
All automobiles require some level of owner care. For example, combustion vehicles require regular oil changes or the engine will be destroyed. Electric vehicles should be plugged in and charging when not in use for maximum performance. All batteries are subject to damage if the charge is kept at zero for long periods of time. However, Tesla avoids this problem in virtually all instances with numerous counter-measures. Tesla batteries can remain unplugged for weeks (or even months), without reaching zero state of charge. Owners of Roadster 2.0 and all subsequent Tesla products can request that their vehicle alert Tesla if SOC falls to a low level. All Tesla vehicles emit various visual and audible warnings if the battery pack falls below 5 percent SOC. Tesla provides extensive maintenance recommendations as part of the customer experience.

The Tesla Bricking Story? It’s Nonsense - Basically says, all cars require some attention, so what's new here?  If you leave a gas car sitting for a few months there's a likelihood of it having problems.

Tesla Dismisses Report of ‘Bricked’ Roadsters - Tesla Motors downplayed Degusta’s report, arguing the issue he raises isn’t a technical problem so much as an issue of properly maintaining the vehicle. The company likens the need to maintain a minimal charge to ensuring there is sufficient oil in a conventional engine.   Tesla argues the problem is not so great at Degusta alleges because the Roadster warns owners as the state of charge approaches critical levels, providing ample notice of the need to plug in. It also notes the risk of the battery depleting over time is an issue only if the car is left idle for extended periods. Most of the 2,200 Roadsters on the road will alert the driver — and Tesla Motors, if the owner has opted into the program — when the state of charge is critically low.

Tesla Battery 'Bricking': The Real Story Behind The Scare and Is Tesla 'Bricking' Story Just An Angry Owner's Warranty Claim? - The first is some interesting speculation.  The second is a letter sent by Max Drucker, of Santa Barbara, California, to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, dated February 12.  In it Max Drucker explains how his Tesla Roadster got bricked, and his concern that as Model S and Model X cars are sold that there will be more bricked cars and a big PR problem for Tesla.

Tesla Motors downplays risk of bricking a Roadster - Reports are circulating claiming a Tesla Roadster design flaw can destroy the battery pack, at a large cost to the owner. Tesla dismisses the problem, saying they've designed in safeguards to prevent it from happening.  Is it good enough that Tesla Motors is remotely monitoring the batteries of the cars they've sold, and calling those whose battery pack charge falls too low telling them to plug their car in? Maybe Tesla can handle this with the fleet of 2200 Roadsters, but what if their Model S and Model X sales goes as expected and they have 10's of thousands of these cars on the road? Will they be able to scale this process up to safeguard against 10's of thousands of car owners who might or might not understand the necessity of keeping their cars plugged in?

VECTRIX Announces Re-Energized Electric Super Bike at SWISS-MOTO 2012

Core Technological Advances Drive the Progression of Clean Energy Racer to the Forefront

    NEW BEDFORD, MA, Feb 14, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- VECTRIX(TM), the leader in two- and three-wheeled electric vehicles, is proud to announce that the Vectrix Super Bike program has been re-energized to showcase the latest generation of Vectrix core technologies such as Vectrix battery systems, power management systems, drive trains, and regenerative throttle systems. The Electric Super Bike will be on display at the SWISS-MOTO 2012 show in Zurich, Switzerland this week (February 16-19, 2012) in Hall 4, Stand C12.

In the four years since the unveiling of the Vectrix Super Bike project, significant advances in Vectrix battery technology have evolved into a compact, efficient and powerful Lithium Manganese battery pack; coupled with creative circuit integration resulting in superior proprietary Vectrix battery management systems, Vectrix energy and power technologies have pushed the progression of the Vectrix Super Bike program to the forefront.

Vectrix Super Bike is an international collaboration of design, technology, and performance specialists. The Vectrix Super Bike is the ultimate blend our advanced energy systems, drive trains, and core components resulting in a world-class e-bike capable of both exhilarating performance and viable range solutions.

"Vectrix is very pleased to spread the word of our rejuvenated 2012 Super Bike Program. As our technology has continued to progress and evolve over the past four years, the performance and range possibilities of our Super Bike have emerged as a viable alternative in the performance bike market segment," said Brian Buccella, Vectrix Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "For loyal Vectrix customers and bike enthusiasts, the Vectrix Super Bike represents the best of Vectrix core technologies, blended into a true performance bike. Through July 2012, we will be accepting refundable deposits in anticipation of a special limited production run of 200 to 500 Vectrix Super Bikes."

The Vectrix Super Bike is the functional melding of 3rd Millennium technology and aesthetics. Vectrix has blended form with function and the result is exceptional performance and range.

Vectrix battery management technology continues to set the global standard for electric zero emission vehicles. The Vectrix Super Bike is the result of Vectrix cross-platform core systems that can be scaled up and down, depending on the market opportunity. The Vectrix Super Bike expands the performance horizon for Vectrix technology.

As Vectrix technology has continued to progress and evolve over the past four years, the possibilities of the Vectrix Super Bike have emerged as a viable alternative in the performance bike market segment. "I am excited to see what this new technology can do against the competition," said Brian Buccella, Vectrix Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

VECTRIX(TM) Super Bike: The VECTRIX Super Bike combines incredible performance with "real-world" range possibilities. The sheer beauty of the Vectrix Super Bike is the result of engineering and design collaboration with the internationally-renowned ROBRADY Design group and Vectrix.
Key Features of the VECTRIX(TM) Super Bike:
        --  Powerful and fast -- Rapidly accelerates to 125 mph (201 km/h).
            1/4-mile (0.40 km) in as little as 12.0 seconds with a top speed of
            125 mph.
        --  All-electric with zero emissions -- no need for oil or gas, and
            virtually silent operation. Plugs into any 110V/220V standard outlet
            and charges battery to 80% capacity in 2.5 hours.
        --  Range up to 124 miles (200 km) on a single charge @ 25mph, due to
            battery pack energy density and our unique regenerative braking
            technology [depending on speed, rider weight, and driving habits].
        --  Patented VECTRIX(TM) Multi-Function Bidirectional Throttle provides
            an ergonomically friendly regenerative braking rider interface to
            maximize range possibilities and provides a slow-speed reverse for
            greater maneuverability and easy parking.
        --  Low Maintenance -- with no oil, no filters, and no clutch your cost of
            ownership is minimal.
        --  Low noise for reduced sound pollution.

About Vectrix(TM): VECTRIX(TM) ( ) was formed to develop and commercialize zero emission vehicle platform technologies. The single focus of VECTRIX(TM) has been to provide clean, efficient, reliable, and affordable urban transportation. VECTRIX(TM) zero emission vehicles are targeted to both consumers and government fleets. VECTRIX(TM) now offers professional and private customers a growing range of clean energy vehicles including the VX-1 Li/Li+, VX-2, and VX-3 Li+. VECTRIX(TM) has facilities in New Bedford, MA and Wroclaw, Poland. For more information, please visit , email, or call (508) 717-6510.
        Media Contact:
        Brian Buccella
        Phone: 949-838-7287
        Email: Email Contact

SOURCE: Vectrix, LLC          

A123 Systems Introduces Advanced Lithium Ion Battery Designed Specifically for Military Vehicle Applications

New Military 6T Battery Offers Light-Weight, Long-Lasting Solution for Engine Start and Silent Watch Functionality; A123 to Showcase Government Solutions at AUSA Winter Symposium

WALTHAM, Mass., Feb 21, 2012 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- A123 Systems, a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate(R) lithium iron phosphate batteries and systems, today introduced the Military 6T Battery, a robust battery system engineered specifically to meet the demanding requirements of military vehicle applications. A123's new solution is designed as a direct replacement for 6T lead acid batteries currently deployed in military vehicles, delivering a longer-lasting, lighter-weight system for engine start and enabling longer-duration silent watch functionality. A123 will showcase its Military 6T Battery and its other government and military solutions in booth #911 during the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Winter Symposium, February 22-24, 2012 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"There are nearly 800,000 6T batteries currently deployed in U.S. military vehicles, and in 2010 alone, the military purchased about 300,000 6T batteries. Virtually all of these are lead acid, so we believe this creates a significant opportunity for our lighter-weight, longer-lasting, higher-performance lithium iron phosphate Military 6T Battery," said Les Alexander, general manager for the Government Solutions Group at A123. "Our new solution has successfully demonstrated the ability to start a High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), and we have begun delivering 6T systems to a number of defense contractors so they can evaluate its performance as a first step toward potential high-volume production. We believe we can leverage our expertise in developing industry-leading products for commercial markets as well as our vertically integrated manufacturing capabilities to deliver systems that will complement the DoD's strategy for deploying more energy-efficient technologies."
Based on A123's proprietary Nanophosphate(R) lithium iron phosphate technology, the Military 6T Battery leverages the systems engineering and manufacturing design utilized to produce A123's 12V Engine Start Battery, which is currently offered to commercial automakers. The Military 6T Battery is offered in both a 12V and 24V model to accommodate specific vehicle requirements. Standard features and benefits of each of A123's 6T battery models include:
          --  Longer Cycle and Calendar Life--A123's Military 6T Battery systems are
              designed to perform significantly more depth of discharge cycles
              compared to other battery technologies. A123's lithium iron phosphate
              military batteries also deliver superior calendar life, lasting
              significantly longer than the most advanced lead acid batteries. This
              reduces battery replacement costs, enables vehicles to operate for
              longer periods of time and reduces life-cycle cost.
          --  Greater Charge Acceptance Rate--A123's lithium ion technology is capable
              of rapid charging, and it also delivers more power when the engine is
              off to facilitate longer-duration silent watch capabilities.
          --  Reduced Weight--A123's Military 6T Battery is about 50 percent lighter
              than lead acid battery systems, offering significant weight savings for
              transport to the battlefield. This improves fuel economy and packing
              efficiency of the transport vehicle which allows for fewer trips into
              hostile areas.
          --  Intelligent Battery Management System--In addition to lithium iron
              phosphate cells, A123's Military 6T Batteries are equipped with robust
              battery management electronics that help balance and safeguard the
              cells, in addition to providing built-in system level safety features
              for under/over voltage cutoff, overcharge and over-temperature
              protection. The battery management system also communicates diagnostics,
              state-of-charge information and current and voltage measurements during
              silent watch, maximizing the performance of the Military 6T Battery when
              operating communications, surveillance and other equipment while the
              vehicle's engine is not running.

Pricing and Availability
The 6T-12 and 6T-24 versions of A123's advanced lithium iron phosphate military battery solution are available now, and pricing is available upon request. For more information, visit A123's booth (#911) at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Winter Symposium (February 22-24, 2012 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), visit A123's Government Energy Storage Solutions Web site or contact the Government Solutions Group.
About A123 Systems
A123 Systems, Inc. is a leading developer and manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries and energy storage systems for transportation, electric grid and commercial applications. The company's proprietary Nanophosphate(R) lithium iron phosphate technology is built on novel nanoscale materials initially developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is designed to deliver high power and energy density, increased safety and extended life. A123 leverages breakthrough technology, high-quality manufacturing and expert systems integration capabilities to deliver innovative solutions that enable customers to bring next-generation products to market. For additional information please visit .
Safe Harbor Disclosure
This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors including statements with respect to the anticipated features, capabilities, benefits and high volume production of the 6T Military Battery, the expected demand for the 6T Military Battery, delays in the DoD's deployment of more energy-efficient technologies, the market for lead acid battery replacement solutions for military applications. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements are: delays in the development, production and delivery of A123's 6T Military Battery, delays in customer and market demand for and adoption of the 6T Military Battery, adverse economic conditions in general and adverse economic conditions specifically affecting the markets and geographies in which A123 operates, reductions in the DoD's budget, and other risks detailed in A123 Systems' quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2011 and other publicly available filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements reflect A123's expectations only as of the date of this release and should not be relied upon as reflecting A123's views, expectations or beliefs at any date subsequent to the date of this release.
SOURCE: A123 Systems, Inc.
        CONTACT: A123 Systems PR Contact:
        A123 Systems
        Dan Borgasano
        Courtney Kessler
        A123 Systems IR Contact:
        ICR, LLC
        Garo Toomajanian

Ford launches OpenXC project, calling for an open platform for automotive consumer electronics gizmos

Ford calls in the hackers - OpenXC is an open source software platform being released soon by Ford that gives engineers an easier path to building consumer electronics gizmos for cars. According to Ford, the software imagines a time when ''your car is as easy to program as your smartphone''. "A simple start is to take advantage of the GPS antenna on the roof of the car to improve the accuracy of your location-aware application," Ford says. "Or get creative - why not generate a digital painting based on your steering wheel movements during the course of a day, and upload it directly to the web."

Ford's open source OpenXC platform as gateway to future high tech car gizmos - The platform (see involves having a gizmo to interface with the ODB-II port to get access to the CAN-BUS, and translate CAN messages into a data stream sent over a USB connection.  The software platform is a stack for Android devices to make it easier to write software to receive and act on the data.  The sort of data it can receive is various vehicle status signals, such as speed, brake pedal status, and so on.

The OpenXC platform is being developed in collaboration with Bug Labs, a New York based developer of small computer hardware building blocks meant to help organizations build the "Internet of Things." 

As of January 2012, OpenXC is supported on these Ford Vehicles: 2011 - 2012 Focus, 2012 Mustang, 2012 Fiesta, 2011 Figo. The OpenXC website suggests the OpenXC specification is available for other manufacturers to implement. If that were to happen, a large market of compatible add-on gizmos could be developed for cars from not just Ford but other automakers.

Ford and Bug Labs Develop Open-Source R&D Platform for Socially-Networked In-Car Connectivity Innovation

  • Ford and Bug Labs, an open-source hardware and software provider, announce a joint development project to research, develop and distribute open-source developer tools to advance in-car connectivity innovation
  • Known as “OpenXC,” the research platform is based on Bug Labs’ open-source Bug System and will enable the developer community to quickly prototype ideas and test out affordable new connectivity concepts that could enhance Ford’s future products
  • At TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco, the two companies will demonstrate innovative solutions based on OpenXC, including a socially-networked in-car fuel economy monitor connected to the Internet, via Bug Labs’ cloud-based service, BUGswarm
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 12, 2011 – With Ford SYNC successfully giving millions of customers the in-car connectivity they crave, Ford and Bug Labs are together exploring the next frontier in how to make connectivity more available, affordable and personalized for the hundreds of millions of consumers expected to buy a vehicle across the globe by 2020.
Today, at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Ford and Bug Labs, an open-source hardware and software provider that offers the tools and support needed to prototype, pilot and produce innovative networked devices, announced a joint development agreement to collaborate on a new in-car research platform named OpenXC.
Based on Bug Labs’ groundbreaking Bug System, OpenXC transforms the car into a plug-and-play platform where interchangeable open-source hardware and software modules can be quickly and easily customized to perform tasks deemed previously unimaginable by developers. With OpenXC, consumers can truly create a personalized driving experience through the addition of countless add-ons. Innovations such as new visual and audio feedback interfaces, environmental sensors and safety devices can be implemented quickly by snapping Bug Labs’ hardware modules directly into Ford vehicles.
“OpenXC is about creating a platform that is totally accessible to the developer community and quickly incorporates local market needs to offer innovative solutions at an affordable price point,” said K. Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader, Infotronics, Ford Research and Innovation. “The platform is designed to help us answer the question of how Ford can accelerate the car connectivity experience around the globe, at a value proposition, for both mature and emerging markets.”
Peter Semmelhack, founder and CEO of Bug Labs, agrees that an open-source platform approach such as OpenXC offers up limitless possibilities for customizing the in-car experience to meet the different market needs around the globe.
“Combining open, modular hardware and software innovation with the next generation of vehicles reinforces Ford’s position as the world’s automotive technology leader,” said Semmelhack. “We are thrilled by the opportunity to collaborate with Ford on such a pioneering project.”
Ford is the first automotive OEM to collaborate with Bug Labs, a company that Semmelhack founded in 2006 as a way for individuals and companies to break traditional barriers associated with new hardware development. Since then, Bug Labs has helped developers and enterprises such as Verizon Wireless, Sprint, AT&T, Accenture, Pitney Bowes and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to conceive of, design, test and deploy innovative devices.
Ford researchers hope that lessons learned through the OpenXC research project will help prepare the company for such unique market conditions around the globe as diverse local languages and dialects, fast-changing content preferences, and the need for affordable “buy as you can” or even rental app solutions.  For Bug Labs, involvement in OpenXC signifies a paradigm shift in the way that automotive companies are exploring new ways to meet consumer demands.
The opportunity for automotive connectivity is tremendous. According to IHS Automotive, potential future global vehicle sales could reach nearly 110 million units per year by 2020, a nearly 30-million jump from where global sales stand today. The biggest climber over the next nine years: Asia, with nearly 20 million more units expected to be sold in 2020 compared with 2011.
Personalized, local content
The vision for OpenXC is simple: the car becomes a docking station for Bug Labs interchangeable plug-and-play hardware and software modules programmed with only the connectivity features and services the driver wants. Functions change with the addition or deletion of modules, giving owners the freedom to continually customize their experience without breaking the bank, and at the same time, adding value to their vehicles as new technologies are introduced, purchased and “plugged” in.
The idea was spawned during a trip Prasad took to India where he noticed that while most people couldn’t yet afford a car, they did have affordable feature phones with significant functionality. “Virtually everyone carried phones rich in locally relevant features such as an LED flashlight and applications such as an astrological almanac – all for a cost of about $40,” Prasad said. “So, the challenge became how can we deliver similarly relevant and affordable connectivity inside the car.”
“Imagine you live in India, own a Ford Figo and love the game of cricket,” explained Prasad. “Now imagine that you could purchase a $30 community cricket module from your local Ford dealer that was designed by a local developer and approved by Ford. This module plugs into a master control board in your car and your Figo would then play a community radio channel dedicated to cricket for the season. After the season is over, you could remove the module and replace it with something else.”
Innovation sandbox 
OpenXC platform is designed to give Ford researchers and independent developers the ultimate sandbox to play in with minimal investment, where any and all ideas, concepts and theories for in-car connectivity can be shared, tested and verified.
“Open innovation platforms give communities globally the power to customize and personalize their products. As an added benefit, it also frees manufacturers, like Ford, from investing in, building and deploying low-volume highly customized vehicles for specific markets – while opening up opportunities for other manufacturers to create value-added products and services for Ford vehicles,” said Bug Labs’ Semmelhack.
While the OpenXC platform shows much potential for Ford in emerging markets where a low-cost value connectivity solution is vital, the concept is also giving Ford the freedom to explore other business models as well:
  • Distribution – The ability to sell or rent hardware and software modules through local dealerships and/or other aftermarket distribution channels
  • Developer Resources – Creating certified open innovation toolkits and SDKs for developers that make innovation, app development, payment and distribution more seamless
  • App Stores – Launching an app store model, where certified developers can offer up their Ford-approved innovations to consumers, who can buy them in a safe and fun environment
Showcasing the Possibilities
Ford and Bug Labs will demonstrate the OpenXC research platform at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco on September 12, 2011. Using a Ford Fiesta as a demonstration vehicle, the two companies will showcase a prototype Fuel Economy Challenge application that uses Bug Labs’ Bug System and newly announced, cloud-based, data aggregation and application development platform, BUGswarm.
The socially-networked fuel economy app includes a Bluetooth-enabled LED fuel efficiency display module in the vehicle’s cockpit. When powered, the app illuminates the windshield with a small digital display indicating how fuel efficiently someone is driving. BUGswarm provides drivers, and other remote viewers, with real-time access to valuable performance information on others involved in the Challenge, providing instant feedback on who is driving most efficiently.
“We have given connectivity to millions of drivers with SYNC, but we know that one size does not fit all and that limiting ourselves to one connectivity model is not going to sustain us going forward,” said Prasad. “OpenXC gives us the ultimate sandbox to play in, where we can collaborate with technology innovators such as Bug Labs, share ideas with the crowd, and then test out our theories together so as those billions of drivers around the world start demanding more connectivity in the car, Ford will be best positioned to deliver it to them.”
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please
About Bug Labs
Bug Labs helps organizations innovate in the rapidly growing machine-to-machine (M2M) and ‘Internet of Things’ markets. The Bug System, an integrated hardware, software and cloud-based open source platform, allows customers to leverage the collective power of real-time, connected devices to make better, faster and more insightful business decisions. BUGswarm, Bug Labs’ web-based service for aggregating data from these devices, empowers developers to mashup information with other data sources and build intelligent applications, products and services that were previously difficult, if not impossible, to imagine.
Bug Labs is a sought-after innovation partner for Fortune 500 enterprises looking to expedite their internal product development programs in vertical markets including healthcare, machine-to-machine (M2M), telematics, and home automation. Bug Labs’ long list of partners includes leading-edge systems integrators, network service providers, and hardware suppliers and distributors, providing enterprise clients an immediate support system to make their product innovation a reality.
The company was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in New York City. For more information about Bug Labs, please visit

Ford Creates First Silicon Valley Presence with New Research Lab to Drive Innovation in Personal Mobility

  • Ford Motor Company will create and open a new research lab in Silicon Valley early this year – its first-ever dedicated R&D office on the west coast
  • New lab will support Ford’s vision that its future is not just about building cars but about creating uncompromised personal mobility experiences for people around the world
  • Lab will be a hub for Ford to develop a wide spectrum of partnerships with established and startup tech firms and with universities in the area, such as Stanford 
DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 6, 2012 – Ford Motor Company today announced plans to create and open its first dedicated research lab in Silicon Valley early this year, further growing the company’s commitment to make technology affordable for millions.
“Ford has an incredible heritage of driving innovation in the transportation and manufacturing sectors during the past 107 years,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president of Research and Innovation. “Now it’s time to prepare for the next 100 years, ushering in a new era of collaboration and finding new partners to help us transform what it means to be an automaker.”
Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally will elaborate on the new areas of focus for the forthcoming Silicon Valley lab, plus Ford’s latest industry-leading technologies including SYNC®, EcoBoost, MyKey® and inflatable rear safety belts, when he returns to the International CES on Jan. 11 for the Innovation Power Panel keynote. This will be Ford’s fourth consecutive keynote presentation at CES.  
Ford Research and Innovation, the company’s advanced engineering arm, will open the new Silicon Valley lab in the first quarter, helping ensure Ford keeps pace with consumer trends and aggressively prepares for the future by developing mobility solutions to harness the power of seamless connectivity, cloud computing and clean technology.
“An open attitude to new ideas is critical to solving the transportation, environmental and societal challenges we expect in the future,” said Mascarenas. “With increasing pressures from urbanization and the need to reduce energy use, we’re going to see energy storage, wireless connectivity, sensing systems and even autonomous vehicles as key parts of the solution.”
The new Ford lab will be located in the San Francisco Bay area of California and will serve as a hub for independent technology projects and identification of new research investments and partners located along the west coast. Ultimately, the lab will create an “innovation network” connecting Ford’s Advanced Design Studio in Irvine, Calif., and Ford employees working with connectivity platform partner Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, Wash.
“Silicon Valley represents a deep and dynamic technology neighborhood and is far from Dearborn,” said K. Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader for open innovation with Ford Research and Innovation. “With so many opportunities and so much potential, our new lab will allow us to scout new technologies and partners in their own environment and continue our expansion beyond the traditional automaker mindset to drive innovation for a better mobility experience.”
Prasad – a Silicon Valley veteran himself – will travel from Dearborn to the Bay area regularly to shape the lab. The new research lab’s employees will be recruited both locally and rotated-in from the global network of Ford employees and will spend their time developing and discovering new technologies, trends, partners and collaborative research projects, said Prasad.
The number of Ford employees at its new lab will be comparable to what you expect of a startup, with an emphasis on quality over quantity, said Prasad.
Prasad added that the establishment of Ford’s all-new Silicon Valley lab will not duplicate or replace work being done at the company’s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, its European facility in Aachen, Germany, or the recently established technology office in Nanjing, China.
Ford’s global Research and Innovation team is already working in several key areas that will be supported by the work of the Silicon Valley lab including:
  • Personal mobility: Mindful of consumer trends and the growth of megacities, Ford is researching new business models that will help avoid the creation of global gridlock through a holistic approach to personal transportation
  • Open-source hardware and software developer kits: Working with New York City-based startup Bug Labs, Ford is launching OpenXC, a research platform that will allow developers to access key vehicle data in order to innovate cloud-based apps and services. The first OpenXC beta developer kits will be shipped this month to several participating universities including MIT, University of Michigan and Stanford
  • The car as a sensor: Researching ways to utilize the multitude of sensors within the vehicle to improve the road for all drivers, Ford is opening the data channels to developers. For example, San Francisco-based Weather Underground is looking at ways to leverage vehicle windshield wiper activations to improve its weather proximity reporting
“Ford integrates technologies, software and electronics at the same pace as the most innovative companies in the world – our platform just happens to be the car,” said Mascarenas. “The new Silicon Valley lab will propel us further as we look at the many facets of life where mobility interacts with society and see how we can make those experiences better for millions of customers around the world.”
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

Ford Takes OpenXC Research Platform Global, Engaging Local Developers for Market-Specific Apps in India

  • Ford is now shipping beta test kits of its open-source connectivity research platform, OpenXC, to developers and universities around the world
  • Ford is using OpenXC to research the opportunity to engage local developers in hopes of accelerating market-specific in-car app development
  • Ford to demonstrate first third-party mobile app created with the OpenXC toolkit at NASSCOM India Leadership Summit
MUMBAI, India, Feb. 16, 2012 – Whether they are in mature automotive markets like North America or Europe or in growth regions like India, drivers want to take advantage of increasingly ubiquitous mobile connectivity. At the NASSCOM India Leadership Summit, Ford is demonstrating the OpenXC research platform and the potential of open-source application development for the automobile.
“Through the OpenXC research project, we are paving the way for new, local entrepreneurs and businesses, where the automobile, mobile phones and the Internet cloud come together in the creation of new experiences when behind the wheel,” said Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader for Ford Research and Innovation, and keynote speaker at NASSCOM.
“India is such a unique and diverse marketplace that – as an automaker – it’s almost impossible for us to keep pace with consumer trends. The OpenXC platform will allow us to harness the power of the consumer and encourage the development of innovative solutions to meet their needs, at their pace.”
OpenXC is an open-source hardware and software platform developed by Ford Research and Innovation and New York City-based Bug Labs to unleash the power of local developers to determine niche market-specific applications that take advantage of mobile connectivity.
“At Ford, we’re constantly researching and reshaping the role of the automobile to add value for our customers,” said Prasad. “OpenXC allows us to investigate what developers can do when we present the car in the same way as they see a smartphone software platform.”
“Networked vehicles represent the next frontier for mobile application developers,” said Peter Semmelhack, Founder and CEO of Bug Labs. “By connecting cars and trucks to wireless networks, entirely new application categories can be explored - safety, energy efficiency, sharing, entertainment, health – the list goes on. OpenXC gives developers the tools they need to get involved.”
OpenXC includes an interface module based on the popular Arduino platform that allows developers to read data from the vehicle’s internal communications network. The hardware module provides real-time access to parameters like the vehicle sensors, GPS receiver and vehicle speed that can be read by apps while keeping everything isolated from the vehicle control systems.
Ford has just started shipping the first OpenXC beta toolkits to universities such as the University of MichiganMIT and Stanford, as well as initial developer participants, including Weather Underground in the U.S. and HCL Technologies in India.
At NASSCOM, Prasad is demonstrating an app created by HCL that would allow a driver to provide selected personal contacts with an automatic location update during that driver’s travels. By monitoring location and speed information from the vehicle, the app can determine if the driver is running late for a meeting and then send an email or text message notification to other attendees without any input from the driver. The app can also notify the driver’s family following a safe arrival after a road trip.
“With OpenXC, Ford is opening up access to the car,” said Prasad. “By enabling local and independent developers to easily and quickly create apps using data provided by the car in combination with mobile connectivity and the power of the cloud, the possibilities are almost limitless.”
The hope is that developers working with OpenXC will be able to create apps across a wide spectrum of categories, from those dealing with personal information and entertainment to those who are contributing to a better world – such as directly addressing congestion, and the needs of road safety, healthcare and education.
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 164,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit